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Children will pay the cost of sacrificing education for indoctrination

As we explain in our forthcoming report The State of Minnesota’s Economy: 2017, it’s educated workforce has long been one of Minnesota’s economic trump cards.

Human capital

The economist Gary Becker put forward the idea of human capital.

We can easily understand how a business increasing the quality of its capital through investment will become more efficient. Replacing shovels with earth movers, for example, will allow each worker to dig more ditches. But we can also think of the workforce in the same way we think of our capital stock. If we increase or improve the investment in an individual’s education or training, this can make them more productive, enabling them to earn higher wages. In this sense, such investment is similar to business investments in equipment. As economists Roberto Cardarelli and Lusine Lusinyan have found, investments in human capital are correlated with increases in productivity.

Minnesota does well on education 

Minnesota’s education system has served the state well in the past.

The table below shows comparisons of the state’s educational attainment with the national average. Minnesota compares favorably on a range of educational outcomes, though the mediocre performance on AP test scores should be noted.

In the past, this strong record in education has been a major factor in Minnesota’s better than average economic performance. If a focus on academic excellence and these standards can be maintained, education will continue to boost the state’s economic future.

What’s going on in Edina’s schools?

This is why, from an economic standpoint, Kathy Kersten’s story in Thinking Minnesota, out today, is so concerning.

In it, she demonstrates how Edina’s public schools have increasingly prioritized indoctrination over education. As a result, while activism is up, test scores are down.

Today, the Edina district’s test scores are dropping. In 2014, 86 percent of Edina High School (EHS) students met state reading standards; today it’s 79 percent. In 2014, 79 percent of high school students were doing grade-level work in math; today it’s only 66 percent. In other words, one in five Edina High School students now can’t read at grade level, and one-third can’t do grade-level math.

These test results dropped EHS’s ranking among Minnesota high schools from fifth to 29th in reading proficiency and from 10th to 40th in math proficiency, according to Minnesota Department of Education data. This reveals a more substantial decline than the high school rankings U.S. News & World Report publishes annually, which show EHS dropping from first place in 2014 to fourth place today.

In the district as a whole, about 30 percent of kids are not “on track for success” in reading, and the same goes for math.

Education does not exist simply to produce future employees. But if we sacrifice our children’s education on the altar of political correctness, they will pay an economic price down the line.

John Phelan is an economist at Center of the American Experiment. 

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